Thursday, July 30, 2009

Enchanting Review: You Are Here

Contemporary YA
Simon Pulse
ISBN# 978-1-4169-6799-6
256 pages
Hardcover – Available now

Rating: 4 Enchantments

Emma Healy has resigned herself to the fact that she’s the only normal person among her family of extraordinary scholars. She’s had years of experience being the odd one out, of feeling like she doesn’t totally belong. And she doesn’t know why, but she’s always felt like a part of her is somehow missing.

Her shy but intelligent neighbor Peter Finnigan feels more at home with Emma’s family of academics than he ever has is his own house. As much as he’d like to, Peter can’t spend every minute of the day in the Healy’s house, but with little other friends, he spends most of his time alone with his books and maps, dreaming of escape.

Opportunity presents itself when Emma finds the birth certificate of her unknown twin brother—and a death certificate dated two days later. Now that she knows which part of her has been missing, Emma feels the need to visit her dead brother’s grave to greet the twin she never knew. Chance and impulse invites Peter, desperate to see the world, along for the ride. And so these two loners make their way from upstate New York to Emma’s birthplace in North Carolina in an old and technically stolen vehicle, picking up a stray three-legged dog and trying to figure out what exactly they’re looking for. Along the way, they’ll learn about themselves and each other, and maybe even figure out how to make themselves whole again.

YOU ARE HERE is a story that covers multitudes of topics from family to friendship to forgiveness. This is all possible due to Smith’s very descriptive, almost lyrical writing style, which covers nearly every aspect of the two teens’ lives and allows great insight into their most intimate thoughts and desires. Although the lengthy descriptions are almost overbearing at times, they do help create vivid and believable characters in Emma and Peter. The character growth during this cross-country trip is predictable and none too original, but it doesn’t make it any less sweet or moving. I felt a real connection to both characters as many readers will; their thoughts and fears and dreams make them easy to relate to. This connection, in turn, made me all the more open to this story’s multiple messages, among which is that family will always be there, even if they don’t always know how to express it. This story is not high action or particularly romantic; it is for readers who want to think and learn from Emma’s and Peter’s journey and anyone in search of their own niche.

YOU ARE HERE is Jennifer E. Smith’s second novel. Her first is THE COMEBACK SEASON. She can be visited online at

Rachael Stein
Enchanting Reviews
July 2009

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